Knowing how to apply first aid if your dog is injured or has an unexpected medical emergency could be the difference between life and death.
- Act cautiously. If your pet has been injured, remember that frightened or hurt dogs can bite the people they know and love. Small dogs (that do not have fractured bones) can be wrapped snugly in an old towel.
- Slow down external bleeding with manual compression or a compression bandage around the limbs. Tourniquets are generally not advisable because they can inadvertently cut the circulation from the limb.
- Do not move your dog unnecessarily. Lift injured dogs with a board or blanket if they cannot walk.
- Keep your dog warm, particularly if unconscious, wet or in shock from haemorrhaging or other trauma.
- For dogs that are clearly not breathing, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may help:
- Artificial breathing in small dogs may be accomplished with chest compressions;
- In larger animals, air can be blown through the nose while the dog's mouth is manually closed;
- Heart compressions may be effective while the dog is lying on his side.
- Remember: vigorous CPR can be dangerous if the dog is breathing or has a beating heart.
Specific medical conditions
Heatstroke or exhaustion
Go straight to a vet. In transit, mist your pet’s body with cool water or wrap loosely in a wet towel.
Treat any eye injuries by moistening the exposed eyeball with water, covering it gently and applying gentle compression, if needed, to stop any bleeding. Eye injuries require immediate attention.
If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and has a hypoglycaemic crisis (but is not unconscious), continually place sugar water or honey on the tongue until you can get to a vet and measure the blood glucose level.
In the event of any seizure, however brief, phone your vet, who will advise if you should bring in your dog and run any potential risks of travelling. Seizures lasting longer than a minute, or repeated brief seizures, are a medical emergency and require immediate attention.
If your dog is having a fit
- Keep your distance, as some dogs can bite if crowded and frightened and you may be just adding to their stress.
- Move any potentially harmful objects out of the way.
- Turn off all stimuli such as the radio, TV and lights – a quiet, calm and dark environment is best.
- Phone your vet for advice.
Remember that prevention is always better than cure. Take your dog for regular health checks and have him vaccinated annually.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.